6. Coach Approach: Clippers By Marc Stein ESPN.com The Clips were this season's original poster team for the suggestion that a club would actually keep its coaching job vacant until July to make an unprecedented invite to a free agent -- Pick your coach, LeBron -- part of its pitch. Such talk, though, has faded in recent weeks, largely because of the rampant skepticism that the Clippers have any shot at a top-tier free agent. Reason being: No one rational thinks LeBron or anyone else in the top tier is going to commit his future to the whims of Clippers owner Donald Sterling, despite the considerable cap room Sterling can offer along with the presence of a quality supporting cast: Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin and Baron Davis. The current prevailing wisdom in NBA coaching circles is that the Clippers' search is proceeding slowly because Sterling is insisting on taking an active role in the process alongside longtime team president Andy Roeser and new general manager Neil Olshey -- which almost guarantees a slow pace and considerable mystery. That should also explain why the Clippers have been linked with high-profile vets such as Larry Brown and Byron Scott and another showy name from TV land (Clippers alumnus/ESPN analyst Mark Jackson) in addition to veteran assistants such as Dallas' Dwane Casey. Sterling has always coveted big names that he thinks will resonate in a Lakers town and excite his beaten-down fans, but as one source close to the situation said: "That's until he sees the price tag." Among the few additional dribbles of speculation that this opening has generated to date are rumbles that popular assistant coach John Lucas (whose relationship with James stretches back to LeBron's high school days in Akron when Lucas was still coaching the Cavs) and former interim coach Kim Hughes (who was fired shortly after the season but then told to keep his office through the end of his contract on June 30 to help with the draft and player development) will get consideration for Mike Dunleavy's old job. As for Brown, two sources insisted this week that the likelihood of Sterling's coach for a season and a half in the early 1990s to stay with the Bobcats is rising sharply, despite all the talk in circulation about Brown and Michael Jordan wanting to part ways. The Sixers and Clippers, for starters, don't appear nearly as excited about the prospect of a Larry reunion as once believed. Another factor: Brown is said to have little interest in a return to Philadelphia unless he gets front-office control as well, which is something Philly is clearly reluctant to give him. Jordan, meanwhile, knows that keeping Brown -- no matter how intrusive he is on personnel matters -- is Charlotte's best chance to stay in the East's top eight, as suggested here in April. The Bobcats' roster, remember, was assembled for Brown specifically to coach, with little-to-no payroll flexibility for easy roster tweaks in the offseason.